HTC fans now have two reasons to consider EE as their new network of choice with the arrival of the HTC One SV: the Taiwanese company’s second 4G-friendly foray into the UK smartphone market. The One SV aims to offer the same incredible 4G data speeds on more conservative hardware than the HTC One XL in order to drive costs down when twinned with those pricey EE tariffs.
HTC One SV: Design
The One SV knows how to make a good first impression. Aesthetically, the handset’s back, although wholly minimalist is rather distinctive and very beautiful, particularly in white. Practically speaking the smooth, matt finish doesn’t offer much in the way of grip, but its feel as well as the tapering on the edges means that it sits extremely well in the hand, not to mention the heavy rounding on all sides makes it comfortable to hold in any orientation.
On the flipside, the soft elements of the design also carry over to some of the hardware controls; so the power/lock key and volume rocker feel spongy and cheapen an already predominantly plastic design with their feel.
The One SV’s frontage is taken up by a 4.3-inch LCD the earpiece, capacitive keys and a 1.6-megapixel front facing camera, whilst the removable back plays host to a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash as well as a loudspeaker and of course the Beats Audio and 4G LTE branding. Underneath that beautiful cover is a removable 1800mAh battery, alongside slots for a microSIM and a microSD card. The round the whole thing off, the SV is also banded by a silver plastic strip which accommodates the aforementioned hardware controls along with a headphone jack on top and the microUSB port for data and charging on the bottom.
HTC One SV: Screen
Swathed in Gorilla Glass 2 on the One SV’s front sits a 4.3-inch S LCD2 panel, toting a WVGA (480x800) resolution. First impressions are good, with an impressively bright backlight making for great outdoor viewing, wonderful colour reproduction thanks to the same LCD technology as employed by its HTC EE brother the One XL and good viewing angles to boot.
The biggest disadvantage is that resolution. The WVGA screen looks great but everything appears oversized - HTC shouldn’t have opted for such a large display at such a resolution. Naturally we’d have liked to have seen a higher-res screen at work, but that would drive costs up so on the flip side, a smaller more compact handset would have been more beneficial.
HTC One SV: Performance
The number crunching in the HTC One SV comes courtesy of the immensely popular Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, which in this instance is clocked at 1.2GHz and like the HTC One S; its older brother, is accompanied by 1GB of RAM. Such competent silicone working with elements like a relatively low resolution screen make for a wonderfully punchy user experience. The UI is, although not lightning fast, fluid, with only the occasional stutter, whilst app launching, browsing and snapping a photo are all no trouble for the One SV.
The GPU at work ensures that heavy duty games aren’t an issue either with brand new 3D titles like Temple Run 2 only dropping a few frames when things get frenetic. Recording and playback of full 1080p HD video is also permitted, all thanks to the capable hardware on offer.
Unfortunately, the 1800mAh battery, although perfectly suited to the non-4G equivalent One SV, struggles when asked to undertake 4G-related tasks. Loading web pages or buffering YouTube videos takes but a moment and continues to bring a smile to our face even when the novelty of 4G speeds should have long worn off, however the One SV’s 4G prowess comes at a cost and if you plan on getting heavy handed with the online mobile tasks, expect trps to the plug point to become far more frequent than normal.
HTC One SV: Operating System
As we’ve already mentioned, the hardware has ensured that there shouldn’t be any gripes with the fluidity of the user experience. The One SV launches with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich along with HTC’s own Sense 4.1 overlay. HTC might have introduced a more recent iteration for their idea of the perfect Android user experience since, but there’s still a wealth of customisation and personalisation on offer with the One SV.
Out-the-box, Sense 4.1 includes a number of widgets, customisation options such as removable homescreens (which can also be reordered) and folders, exclusive ringtones and smart lockscreens to enrich the stock ICS experience. What’s more, HTC have included a ton of native applications, such as the picture gallery which offer not only the ability to view locally store photos, but tap into images from social networks like Facebook and other services such as Dropbox.
Get the phone from EE and alongside a rather punch yellow wallpaper, the carrier has included apps like My EE and EE Film to manage your account and rent or buy movies on your phone respectively.
HTC One SV: Camera
Much like the HTC One S, the SV doesn’t come with a hardware shutter button, but it’s easy enough to snap a quick shot thanks to the immediate feel of the onscreen shutter, so fumbling to grab a photo shouldn’t be an issue and missing a shot less likely. Thankfully Sense 4.1 also makes sure you can quick launch the camera from the lockscreen, even with a passcode or lock pattern.
The camera UI is wholly serviceable, granting easy access, to general controls such as stills and video, image or video quality, flash and scene settings, but should they so wish, users can just as easily tweak the controls more closely. Having said that we’re not sure how much tweak would actually go to improving the shots taken by the One SV.
On screen, resultant images look fine, but blow them up on a larger display and quality is less than stellar. Colour reproduction is always pleasant with punchy colours being distinguishable from more subtle shades, but all types of images; from high contrast to macro, lack fine detail. Low light too doesn’t fair well with heavy noise, although the LED flash does go a little way to easing this issue. The gap between the 5-megapixel and 8-megapixel cameras used by HTC is wholly significant and the One SV’s 5-meg unit is as we’d expect, nothing special.
HTC One SV: Verdict
As a brand new Android device entering into the mid-range market, we can see what HTC were gunning for. It makes a great first impression with excellent design and a fast, flowing UI, but as you’d expect for the price, the premium user experience isn’t maintained throughout the whole phone. That’s not to say the rest of the handset is a total let down, but we couldn’t warrant buying the non-4G model.
EE’s 4G network adds a lot to the One SV and what’s more it’s one of the only handsets currently on their books with no upfront cost on any of their 4GEE tariffs, save for the cheapest £36 a month plan and even then it’ll only set you back £29.99. Use 4G too much though and battery performance will be impacted. A great phone with a few shortcomings, but worth it if you want a way into 4G without as much of a strain on your wallet.
4/3/13 Conclusion updated with battery clarification